Dealing with negative or even scathing online customer reviews has become the scourge of many small-business owners, who sometimes feel reviews are too harsh or even completely untrue and harm their reputation. One small company recently learned the risks of lashing back against customers who leave such reviews.
Mediabridge Products, a Cherry Hill, New Jersey, company that sells cabling and connectivity products had its selling license revoked by Amazon last week after it threatened to sue a customer who left a negative review of a wireless router the company sells. The online review claimed that Mediabridge was fabricating positive reviews for its products on Amazon and selling rebranded hardware. Mediabridge, in turn, claimed the customer was waging an "illegal campaign to damage, discredit, defame and libel” the company, according to The Verge.
The customer, known by their user name “trevely,” altered his product review on Amazon after the lawsuit threat. But he then posted a letter from Mediabridge threatening to sue him on Reddit. That unleashed a wave of angry people, several who said they contacted Amazon and complained that Mediabridge was bullying trevely into taking down his negative review.
“Never in my life have I been so relentlessly bullied by a company,” trevely wrote on Amazon. "Please keep that in mind when considering whether to purchase any products from Medialink. And if you decide to leave a negative review, don’t use your real name like I did.”
In a statement on Facebook which has since been deleted, Mediabridge defended its actions, according to Ars Technica. “It’s our sincere belief that reasonable people understand that not only is it within our rights to take steps to protect our integrity, but that it should be expected that we would do so when it is recklessly attacked," the statement said. "Unfortunately, as a result of our attempt to get this reviewer to do the right thing & remove his untrue statements about our company, Amazon has revoked our selling privileges. Many hard-working employees whose livelihood depended on that business will likely be put out of a job, by a situation that has been distorted & blown out of proportion."
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